I finished a book today that I’ve been trying to read, on and off, for about a year. A friend at work recommended it to me last year, and unfortunately the first time I started it coincided with my Collection Development class, which didn’t leave a lot of time for recreational reading. Then there was my Cataloging class, a huge bibliography I had to help compile for my library’s Summer Reading Program, etc…. and somehow this one kept being shoved to the bottom of the pile. But I finally got to page 487 today, and even though it’s not the sort of book I usually read, I am glad I gave it a chance.
Archive for August, 2006
I heard it’s Charlie Parker’s birthday, so here’s a quick shout-out for Chris Raschka’s wonderful picture book Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (1992). The text has an infectious rhythm, and Raschka’s energetic, vivacious illustrations amaze, as usual (and Raschka is our most recent Caldecott Award winner); it’s jazz on the pages of a book (with a recurring line being the title of this post). Your favorite toddler will likely enjoy it, too, even if not familiar with jazz. I promise. But do yourself a favor, too, and read this one. Happy birthday, Charlie, who played that mess just like it didn’t mean a thing, ya’ll. I think I’ll listen to some jazz today in honor . . .
(Whew. See, I really can write a short post) . . .
I admit to reading this book for one reason and one reason only: I was suckered into it by a wise marketing ploy on behalf of the publisher — a quote on the front of the book attesting to the fact that Maurice Sendak likes it. Maurice Sendak could tell me that licking my kitchen floor clean is a good idea, and I’d consider it (and that’s sayin’ a lot, ’cause, well, I’ve been reading too much lately and neglecting the mop).
It must be hard, in some ways, to be Lois Lowry or any other insanely talented writer who has written a novel that is considered a modern classic. When you read one of their subsequent works, hard as you try, that pesky classic lingers in your mind and you compare it to the title you’re currently reading. Lots of reviews of Lowry’s work compare what she’s written to The Giver — a superb piece of writing, indeed. I dare say that The Giver became the backdrop against which we compare other contemporary science fiction books in the realm of children’s literature (but that is arguable; feel free to argue). Nevertheless, as Eisha put it when I told her I was reading Lowry’s latest, you can’t crank out The Giver every time, nor should you be expected to. So, let’s look at the merits of Lowry’s Gossamer, published in April of this year, in its own singular light.
Hey. So, I just finally watched Shopgirl, that film based on Steve Martin’s novella of the same name. And I know this is “A Blog About Books,” but this is the first time I’ve ever experienced this and I think it’s worth noting: I liked the movie BETTER than the book!
Eisha added a link to Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust here on our blog. I always have my own, little internal sturm und drang about looking at such sites — I really want to, being the book nerd I am, but perhaps I will see something I want to read and will want to add it to my already unwieldy reading list. It’s almost as if I look at them all squinty-eyed with my hands partly covering my face, not unlike you would look at a train wreck if you passed it. You are compelled to look, but you’re scared. But, well, I did. I went. I saw. I added. In fact, I was so intrigued by Pearl’s review of Elizabeth Strout’s Abide With Me (2006) that I didn’t just add it to my list. I went and got it from the library and started it and found it hard to put down.
A bit of a qualification here: When I discuss a new picture book title, I mean new-to-libraries and not necessarily super hot off the presses. Hey, I’m choosing not to work outside my home until my daughters enter school, so we gotsa watch our budget. In fact, I just generally avoid the children’s sections of bookstores anymore so that I’m not baited by these gorgeous new picture book titles . . . So, the following titles are new, as in 2006, but not necessarily brand spankin’ new. In other words, check your library; they probably have them. And these are ones that are, for many reasons, particularly snazzy-great for your pre-schooler/toddler. The one pictured here, Brian Pinkney’s Hush, Little Baby, is my favorite thus far this year and is mentioned in my bed-time list. This one spills over with so much joy that the characters rarely have their feet on the ground. And it’s a fascinating study of what an illustrator can do with line in a picture book — in this instance, Pinkney’s lithe and lovely arcs. Happy reading!
If you’ve spoken to me at all in the past few weeks, odds are you’ve already heard me mention The Book Thief by Markus Zusak at least once. And if you’ve picked up a newspaper, or a review journal, or glanced at anyone else’s book blog, you’ve probably read at least one review of it. Everybody, everywhere is talking about it. Which is the main reason I’ve been reluctant to talk about it here. But I must. This is that kind of book. It just will not leave me alone. This book does not lie down quietly in the subconscious - it stomps around the frontal lobe and bangs its fists on the inside of the skull. The copy I’ve had checked out for waaay too long has utterly refused to let me return it until I write some of this stuff down. So, okay already…
“There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents … and only one for birthday presents, you know.” — Lewis Carroll
My apologies that this is not book-related, but it’s a quick birthday greeting to Eisha, my blog partner-in-crime and true friend, who turns 22 today (tee hee). Eisha, this is a Miri Pi drawing for you; it’s a three-eyed dude (hey, she’s two) and a birthday balloon for you. I know it’s small, but when I try to make it bigger, it’s even more difficult to see. Anyway, happy birthday and may you celebrate with lots of wine and sweet words (to paraphrase Plautus — not that I’ve been reading Roman playwrights of late, but I saw that quote somewhere before). — Jules
Polly Horvath’s ever-present muse is one quirky and offbeat and funny benefactor. I love her books. Most of them are geared for the child in the intermediate grades, but I don’t care how old you are, you will love Everything on a Waffle (2001). As a Horn Book reviewer put it, Horvath nails subtlety and slapstick, a difficult thing to do. And 2003’s The Canning Season, a Young Adult title, is compelling storytelling (though if I remember correctly, there were many grumbles in our field over that title snagging the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. I, for one, was happy to see it win. We’ll talk later maybe about Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane getting the 2006 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. What the . . . ???). Horvath has many wonderful books; she’s a talented writer.